Gifts for the American Wine Lover

wine glass
wine glass

There is something about the period of time between late fall and New Year’s Eve that electrifies the air with energy and holiday spirit.  All of the hustle and bustle, visiting family, and making merry allows us to forget the everyday stresses and enjoy the time with family & friends.  The holidays are a time for celebrating.  Opening a special bottle of wine makes the season even brighter! What better way to ring in the season of cheer than with the gift of wine?  With a wide variety of styles and price points, you can find something for everyone on your list.  So what bottles should you get?  Naturally, it depends on who you are buying for, but here are a few suggestions to get you started.

For a festive party, start with a sparkling wine. The affordable NV Roederer Estate Brut from California’s Anderson Valley is a perennial favorite.  Bursting with crisp apples, lemon zest, and baking spice this treat is terrific for all of your holiday parties and toasts.  $20

sweet cheeks
sweet cheeks

For a stunning surprise, gift the white wine lover on your list with Pinot Gris.  Known as Oregon’s “other” Pinot, it can be light and racy, or rich and creamy.  The Kramer Vineyards 2009 Kimberly’s Reserve Pinot Gris, at only $18 a bottle, this beautiful wine is fermented in all neutral oak, which gives it a rich and opulent mouthfeel.  Full of pear, golden delicious apple, and stone fruit, this Pinot Gris is creamy, luscious and delicious.

Another example of Oregon Pinot Gris, the Sweet Cheeks Winery 2011 Pinot Gris(Bronze medalist in the 2013 NY International Wine Competition) is bright and fresh, with pear and citrus notes.  Its creamy texture is wonderful for Chardonnay lovers looking to branch out, and you’ll love the $16 price tag.

For the Pinot Noir lovers on your list, you can go from an affordable $16 to the extravagant $68 bottle in a click of the mouse.  Pinot Noir is one of my favorite varietals, since you can have such diversity in such a tenderhearted grape.  There are so many variations of Pinot Noir, from big and bold, to light and subtly elegant, that it’s hard to go wrong.  While many people can be intimidated by Pinot Noir, it’s a great gift wine as you can find something for everyone.

Produced by Oregon’s largest winery, King Estate, the 2011 Acrobat Pinot Noir is a surprisingly complex and expressive wine.  Full of red fruit, cigar box spices, and bright acid, the $15 price tag seems like a misprint for this tasty treat.

Johan Vineyards
Johan Vineyards

From further north in the Willamette Valley, the 2009 Johan Vineyards Pinot Noir (Bronze, 2013 Ny International Wine Competition) is a beautifully floral example of what you can find in an Oregon Pinot.  With classic cranberry and strawberry flavors, this is a quintessential Pinot at $30.

At $38, the 2011Cartograph Wines Anderson Valley Pinot Noir is the newest offering from the Healdsburg winery.  From a vineyard located at 1900 feet in elevation, this vineyard is one of the latest to ripen, with beautiful characteristics of tart cherries and cedar.  Drinking beautifully today, it will only get better with time.

For a special bottle to bring to a dinner party, the 2011 Seven of Hearts Special Reserve Pinot Noir is a showstopper.  This blend from the Willamette Valley showcases the variety of vineyard sources that winemaker Byron Dooley feels are the very best of the year.  Made only when Byron finds that the fruit from each vineyard is at it’s very best, this complex, earth driven pinot that showcases the classic Willamette flavor profiles of mushroom, rose petal and red fruit.  Light and approachable, it blossoms after a few hours of opening.  $45

Cartograph
Cartograph

For those wine lovers on your list that prefer a Cabernet Sauvignon, the 2010 Cornerstone Napa Valley Howell Mountain is a deliciously lively example of what mountain fruit can do in Napa Valley.  Deep and dark, with fig, licorice and black cherry, the zip of red currant hides behind the dark fruit to bring a note of freshness and excitement.  $80

Zinfandel, America’s heritage grape, is always a crowd pleaser for cocktail parties and dinners alike.  The 2010 Alexander Valley Vineyards Sin Zin (Silver medalist in the 2013 NY International Wine Competition) has been making spirits bright for over 30 years.  This bold and spicy classic is a great hostess gift or party favor at $20.

For the non traditional people on your list, go Rhone and pick up a bottle of the 2010 Bray Vineyards Barbera.  This Italian varietal grows well in the Sierra Foothills area of California, and is a full bodied, powerful wine is wonderful with food.

Another bold wine that is a good alternative to Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah is dark and rich, with blueberry, chocolate and coffee notes that is perfect for warming in front of the fire.  At $34, the La Storia Petite Sirah from Trentadue Winery in the Alexander Valley(Silver medal, 2013 NY International Wine Competition) is a great choice.

Enjoy the holiday season, full of cheer, and pick up some tasty treats for all those near and dear!